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Doom Patrol: Dada Patrol

"Apparently, I’m a time traveler who makes films and has allies in the afterlife."

The Doom Patrol takes its first steps toward confronting the Sisterhood of Dada, but gets distracted by a dreamlike meditation on identity.

At least, I think that's what this was all about. I'm not entirely sure.

'Dream sequence' episodes can be a challenge. It's just way too easy to go off the deep end directly into pretentiousness, and they more often than not end up either being way too simplistic or so convoluted and oblique that they're hard to engage with. So, it works to the show's advantage that the enemy causing these particular dream sequences are adherents of Dadaism, and 'pretentious,' 'oblique,' and 'hard to engage with' are their jam.

It's probably useful to say a brief word about the Dada movement here for context. Rita's definition is by no means incorrect, but a more useful way to understand it for the sake of this episode was a deliberate attempt to remove rationality, logic, and reason. It's a rejection of normality and objective reality. Sort of. That's a terribly oversimplified explanation and I offer a heartfelt apology to any art history scholars who might have had the misfortune of reading it. Maybe it's better to think of it as an attempt to find a different sort of meaning through nonsense. Sort of. Look, it's hard to define deliberate lack of reason in scholarly terms.

In the comics, the Brotherhood of Dada was formed by Mr. Nobody out of the ashes of the Brotherhood of Evil. He determined that he'd transcended such limited concepts as 'good' and 'evil' and formed a team to embrace the weird and illogical. And while I would have loved to have seen Alan Tudyk back in this one, the decision to gender-flip them into the Sisterhood of Dada was a really great idea. All four of the members of the original line-up appear to be present here, with only one of them changing genders themselves – Byron Shelley a.k.a. The Fog here is very cleverly updated to Shelley Byron a.k.a. not yet named The Fog but clearly having the same powers of creating psychedelic fogs that consume people. I don't think we got confirmation of Shelley's pronouns, but if I were to guess based on presentation Shelley seems to read as some variety of genderfluid, so I'm going to go with they/them for the time being.

In this version, the Sisterhood had been locked up for 100 years in the Ant Farm, but were set free back in 'Cyborg Patrol' when the team busted that place up and inadvertently turned Darren into a Were-Butt. I really like how all of these pieces are fitting together. The film that Madame Rouge sees herself in is dated 1917, so it must be not long after that that the Sisterhood gets captured by what I'm pretty sure has already rebranded themselves as the Bureau of Normalcy. We aren't yet privy as to whether 'Laura De Mille' was part of the Sisterhood and captured with them. Possibly she was an undercover agent for the Bureau and helped capture them? We do know that by 1949 Niles was writing letters to the Bureau to tell them how horrible she was, which seems to indicate that she was working for them by that point at least. Obviously there's a lot of pieces to this story that we don't know yet, but the gaps in our knowledge are interesting gaps that are intriguing to think about. That's a great space for a story to be in.

What we have here are basically three different strands of storyline that all have the same thing on their mind. Fundamental identity. Rita has completely embraced the idea that she is really 'Rita Farr, World Renowned Time Traveler, which when you think about it is just the latest in a succession of identities she's tried to craft for herself. It's just this year's version of The Beekeeper, and even Madame Rouge isn't fooled by it. Rita doesn't introspect to discover her identity, she tries to craft one for herself. Which is why all of her attempts end up ringing hollow, just as this one is inevitably going to do.

Madame Rouge a.k.a. Laura De Mille spends most of this episode consumed by the possibility that she might be a bad person. Stripped of her memory, she'd been clinging to the belief that she would know, deep down, if she was a bad person, but Niles' letter to the Bureau seems to have really knocked her for a loop. And this is this week's excuse to talk about how amazing Michelle Gomez is. Her monologue about not knowing herself is just astonishing work. As written it's kind of all over the place in tone and thought process – deliberately, as she's drunk. That wasn't a crack at the scripting. The ability to perform that piece and to make it feel organic, coherent, and nothing short of riveting from beginning to end, it's just stunning.

Meanwhile, Cliff, Jane and Vic get swept up in the Fog of Shelley's making, each meeting a member or two of the Sisterhood, and each getting drawn into a poetic and meandering conversation about their essential selves. They're asked, respectively, 'What are you?', 'Who are you?', and 'Why are you?'. Cliff gets the most direct version of this conversation, and is amusingly also the most comfortable chatting about the idea. The woman in the glass box, IMDb identifies her as Sachiko, expresses in quite moving and poetic terms her feelings of slowly losing her relevance and sense of self as they're inevitably drained from her and you can see that the thought resonates with Cliff.

Vic, elsewhere in the fog, encounters Lloyd, who's busy sculpting a face and wearing most of a bicycle. I should add here, I always really loved Lloyd's look in the comics and I thought they really nailed it here. Vic's the one who gets the question 'Why are you', which in many ways is the most interesting of the three questions. But here's where I reach a caveat. Vic and Lloyd's conversation contains a LOT to unpack about the legacy of systemic racism and its relationship to identity for Vic as a black man and I am in no way the right person to be unpacking it. All I can really say is that when Vic asks Lloyd if he's half man/half bicycle and Lloyd responds that he's at least three fifths man... well, a casual glance through Racism's Greatest Hits in American History shows how hard that line hits.

And then there's Jane. Interestingly enough, it's strongly implied that Jane is really the one that the Sisterhood is interested in. Obviously the question of identity is particularly loaded when it comes to Jane and I'm intrigued by the fact that Shelley seems to have deliberately manipulated things so that just Jane and Kay are with her in the candy store, while the other personalities are locked outside. What does Shelley want from Jane? Or do they want something from Kay? Are they attempting to get Jane to split off into her own 'self'? How does any of this tie into the developing plot thread that Kay is apparently 'growing' and wants to have a go at being the personality in charge? Time will tell. I do think the way that the various alters are reacting to that development has been fascinating.

And finally, Larry. I don't include him in the 'confrontation with the sisterhood' section because even though he's with them in the mist, he's left behind at the van and doesn't, you know, confront the Sisterhood. We're all assuming that the now moving bump is some sort of negative energy pregnancy, right? I don't have much to say about Larry this week really, except that it was very in character that he would go to Rita for help with his 'bump problem' and I was really surprised that his son Paul was actually there with him when the fog cleared.

This all feels like it's coming together in an interesting way. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Bits and Pieces:

- Silas secretly turns Cyborg's powers back on behind S.T.A.R. Labs' back. That's good, as Larry is also without powers at the moment, and they need all the help they can get. Everything about the phone call between Vic and Silas feels like they're gearing up to kill Silas off. It's handled well enough, but I just don't care about that plotline.

- Is it wrong to hope that Madame Rouge sticks around to direct the team and give fun mission briefings? Because everything about the dynamics of that scene was just perfect.

- They made a point of showing the missing child ad on the milk carton for 'Isabel Feathers.' Is that setting something up for the future, or am I missing the reference?

- I googled it out of curiosity and dopamine stimulaters are indeed used for the treatment of Parkinson's Disease. They appear to be more a case of slowing down things getting worse than actually curing anything, but of course Cliff wouldn't have noticed that.

- The Sisterhood is out to either cause or assist with something called the 'Eternal Flagellation.' It sounds like one of those 'I have to destroy the world that exists now so I can build one I like better' situations. Cliff and Jane use it as excuse to make fart noises, which just feels right.

- Cliff speaking Japanese was a funny gag. It sounded like Brendan Fraser was really speaking it as well. I wonder how good his Japanese was, not speaking it myself. Anybody?

- Very cute callback to Admiral Whiskers by Larry.

- I spent a lot of this episode trying to place where I knew Lloyd from. Eventually I had to look it up. Miles Mussenden, the actor playing him, was Otis a.k.a. Ty's father on Cloak and Dagger. He was great there too.

- How many pills did Cliff order? And for that matter how did he pay for them? And how does he not know not to click on sketchy pop up ads?


Jane: "Hey, Doctor Who. Did you call us all in here so we can watch you do your Kegels, or did you actually have something to say?"

Vic: "We are not the kind of people that kill people."
Cliff: "Unless they’re Nazis. Or butts."

Vic: "What exactly is Dada?"
Rita: "Uch. It’s just this insufferable thing the French came up with so they could make crude nudie films and call it art."

Larry: "How does this crap keep happening to us?"
Jane: "Because no one else gets sent on a mission by a time traveling bird lady to go hunt down some art freaks who pissed off a half-man, half-butt monster who may be trying to destroy the world."
Larry: "Yeah. Got it."

Rita: "Eventually, my purpose or destiny will come and snatch me from this infernal stasis. In the meantime, I drink."

Bicycle: "Toad bonnet bee. Thatcher’s blue bum. Toad bonnet bee. Thatcher’s blue bum."
Cliff: "I am so fucking high."

Jane: "Wow. That is some art school level pretentious bullshit."

I enjoyed this episode for what it was, but I do have to admit that it was so textually dense that after two viewings I still feel like there's a lot that I either missed or didn't understand. That's Dada for you.

Seven out of ten chocolate buttons.

Mikey Heinrich is, among other things, a freelance writer, retired firefighter, and roughly 78% water. You can find more of his work at the 42nd Vizsla. If you'd like to see his raw notes for this and other reviews, you can find them at What Was Mikey Thinking.


  1. Great review! It was a fun read! Thanks for writing it!

    I also got the feeling with Vic and Silas's conversation that they were setting up Silas's death. It's possible that I'm reading too much into it, but I feel like there are going to be consequences for turning Cyborg back on.

    As for Brendan Fraser's Japanese, he really was speaking Japanese! He was speaking incredibly slowly, but it was actual Japanese. He also got the accent right, which is hard for Westerners (myself included). And as a bonus, he didn't make me want to cover my ears and scream, so that's good. No, in all honesty, it was really good! Slow, but good.

    Thanks again for a great review!

  2. Thank you so much!
    And that is really cool to know. How awesome is it that both the show and Brendan took the time to get that right

  3. I appreciated my callback as well <:)~

    Isabel Feathers was Rita's insufferable nemesis, the one playing "Blob Lady" in "Our Town!" who dissected Rita's insecurities to her face. Madame Rouge scared her by shape shifting into her face after using her playbill to wipe, and Isabelle stumbled into the crevasse.

    Great encapsulation of how we have lots of plot/character questions but all interesting -- not frustrating --ones.

    I thought this episode was going to be pure zany from previews, but of course Doom Patrol doesn't roll that way without a healthy dose of self-introspection. I was a little surprised they went there with Vic because to me (just me!) as a BIPOC, they haven't interrogated how race or racism would have affected Vic or Jane's life experiences much at all.

    Interested to see where things go in the latter half of this season!

  4. D'oh! Of course. I don't think I'd ever registered her name other than 'lady playing Rita in the play'

    Thank you!

    You're right, they really haven't said much about race or racism. I wonder if they'll ever explore that in more detail (I should note, I haven't seen the last three episodes of this season yet, so maybe they do.)


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